Admittedly, I’m a huge Qabala nerd (see previous post: Qabala is queer, and it isn’t even sneaky about it). I love how the Qabala gives me a framework for understanding our relationship with divinity and a clear path for personal growth. I love how you could study it for a lifetime and only begin to scratch the surface of understanding it. I love how it’s incumbent upon every generation of Qabalists to add to the depth of knowledge and understanding of the Tree.
Unfortunately, when it comes to learning the Qabala, many budding Qabalists may find themselves frustrated. A lot of the notable and comprehensive works on Hermetic Qabala are densely written and were self-published over 50 years ago, which means they didn’t have a solid editor. What we’re left with are rambly screeds that have some great pearls of wisdom, but to get those pearls you have to slog through a ton of content that’s either difficult to connect with, irrelevant, or just plain infuriating, including rampant homophobic, sexist, racist, xenophobic, and ableist beliefs.
I’m not going to say you shouldn’t read these books – you should, with your “it is a product of its day” filter set to maximum – but they may not be the best works to start your Qabala journey with.
I found two books particularly helpful in my early Qabala studies. As more-recently-published works, the problematic-content-density is decidedly lower than in a lot of the “classic” works, and they’re well-edited and well-written and easy to follow:
- The Witches Qabala by Ellen Cannon Reed
- The Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford by Lon Milo Duquette
Each of these gives you a good way to begin to understand the basics of Qabala without tearing your hair out.
I’m also currently reading The Temple of High Witchcraft by Christopher Penczak, which has a lot of solid Qabala content, and have been impressed with it so far. But since I haven’t finished it yet, I’m not adding it to my “recommended” list juuust yet.
What’s your favorite beginner Qabala book? Share it in the comments!